Heart Beat: Beta testing

Heart Beat

Beta testing

Beta blockers are among the best treatments for high blood pressure and stable chest pain (angina), as well as after a heart attack, because they reduce the heart's workload and help it beat more regularly. Yet they can also narrow the tubes that carry air to and from the lungs, a side effect that has traditionally put them off limits for people with asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.

That's changing. Research suggests that beta blockers, especially those that target the heart, are not only safe for people with mild or moderate lung disease, but also good for them. A study, published in the December 15, 2004, American Journal of Medicine, followed almost 2,000 men and women with both high blood pressure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for 10 years. Those who took a beta blocker were about half as likely to have died during the study period as those who took another drug.

If you should be taking a beta blocker but aren't because of breathing problems, talk with your doctor. A beta blocker that's specific for the heart might do you some good.

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